Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site / Bailey’s Dam

Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site / Bailey’s Dam


Forts Randolph and Buhlow are two earthen forts that were constructed between 1864 and 1865 in anticipation of a Union invasion in the spring of 1865. The forts were completed under the command of Captain Christopher M. Randolph and Lt. Alphonse Buhlow, military engineers. After Union occupation of the area during the Red River Campaign resulted in the burning of approximately one third of the structures in Alexandria and Pineville, the Confederate troops undoubtedly wanted to be prepared for another possible invasion. Over 800 Confederate troops were assembled at the forts to defend against the awaited Union attack. The forts were surrendered to Union forces without opposition on June 3, 1865.


Bailey’s Dam was constructed to enable Admiral David Porter’s Red River flotilla to cross the falls and rapids of the Red River at Alexandria, as Union forces under the command of General Nathaniel Banks retreated after the Battle of Mansfield in their attempt to capture Shreveport in the spring of 1864. The rapids were particularly impossible to cross due to seasonal low water and signaled imminent capture by the Confederate army. Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey designed a dam to raise the water level and enable safe passage of the Union gunboats, so they could continue their passage to the Mississippi River. He constructed cribs on both sides of the river, filling them with timber from Pineville and wood and materials from dismantled buildings in Alexandria and the surrounding area. The dam was successful and allowed for the safe passage of Porter’s ships south on May 13, 1865. The dam was visible until the Army Corps of Engineers constructed a series of locks and dams in the 1980s, raising the level of the river.

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